Stay Still

Think of yourself just as a seed patiently waiting in the earth; waiting to come up a flower in the Gardener’s good time, up into the real world, the real waking.

C. S. Lewis

Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth.

Psalm 46:10

For the last few weeks I have been working an extra temporary job to help save up for a car. One day I was trying to focus on the work, which can be tedious, but my mind was flying in every direction. I was going over all the things that needed doing and bills that needed paying and trying to figure out how to get it all done. There should have been a blue circle over my head going around and around. I couldn’t get my mind to stay still.

Sometimes the busyness of this world can overwhelm us with things we think we should do or worrying about might ifs. The story of Martha is often the story of us. Jesus was in the house, and she was in the kitchen. She was missing out on the best part of life doing what was expected of her by society, being a good host, instead of enjoying her company. Jesus doesn’t call us to do what the world expects; He calls us to be obedient to him. Sometimes that means to just be still.

41 And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things: 42 But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.

Luke 10:41-42

The funny thing is Jesus’ list is a lot shorter than the one the world tries to give us. His goal is not necessarily being more productive as much as it is being closer to Him. Now, we all have jobs to do, but sometimes we take on work that isn’t ours. We either try to do things that God didn’t call us to, or we try to do his job. In the Mary and Martha story, Jesus says that Mary has chosen the one needful thing, which was being in His presence. If we take the time to sit at His feet, we often find the To Do List is shorter than we thought.

Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

Matthew 11:28

Jesus calls us to work alongside Him. When we do that, He takes the bulk of the weight for himself, but sometimes we try to take over. For instance, when I started worrying about the future, I was taking on His job and it is too much for me because I wasn’t made for that position. God doesn’t want us to work ourselves to death; He wants us to rest. He even set aside a day for it.

But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.

Isaiah 40:31

When we take the time to wait upon the Lord, we are renewed. The word “wait” has a few connotations. The first is to wait upon the Lord like Mary did by sitting at His feet, to take a moment to be still. Another meaning is to wait for His guidance and timing. Finally, there is the idea of waiting on Him like a servant, or being obedient to His commands. When we wait on the Lord, our lives are much more enjoyable and satisfying because we are doing what we were meant to do, but it all started with being still.

Stay Focused

Bear in mind then, that Brag is a good dog, but Holdfast is a better.

― Charles Dickens, Great Expectations

I’m not in this world to live up to your expectations and you’re not in this world to live up to mine.”

― Bruce Lee

The two words set my nerve on edge: Below Expectations. I am working a short-term job which requires me to maintain validity. They judge this by randomly inserting tests in with actual work to make sure that I am responding in a consistent manner. For the last week I had been “Exceeding Expectations” and making incentive pay for my hard work. In one shift I had dropped to the danger zone, and I had no idea why because I cannot see what I have done wrong and my supervisor is not allowed to tell me. They can only offer suggestions. If I drop too low, I can be dropped from the job and possibly not invited to further job offers. I reminded God that He had provided this job and I needed wisdom to be able to continue.

 Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh: is there any thing too hard for me?

Jeremiah 32:27

Jeremiah was the verse for Monday and reminded me that not even a computer system or validity questions were too hard for God. I continued working, but the two words “Below Expectations” were always just to the left, mocking me. I clocked out early with a headache.

 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

1 John 1:9

I had to confess that I was wavering in my faith a little, especially since the two words would not go away, no matter how carefully I worked. I had lost my confidence. I prayed again and kept working.

And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.

Romans 8:28

I could see no purpose in this mental torture, but I kept on working. There was still no change in the two words. I clocked out a little early, weary of the mental strain of trying to meet some hidden goal.

 There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.

1 Corinthians 10:13

The next night I picked back up with those two words still lit up in orange: Below Expectations. I began to work and occasionally the system would show me that I had answered correctly, but the words refused to change. Then, I noticed that the system had not notified me of a chat message from my supervisor. It was a word of encouragement. I responded that I appreciated it.

 He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust: his truth shall be thy shield and buckler.

Psalm 91:4

A little while later I received a phone call from the supervisor. He said that he had no idea why the system kept showing “Below Expectations.” From His perspective, I was doing excellent work. He could see everything I had done from His side of the system, while all I could see were the two words “Below Expectations.” His encouragement got me back on track and a day later I was back on “Exceeds Expectations.”

In life, sometimes all we ever see about us are evidence that we don’t meet up to the world’s standards. The truth is it’s not the world’s standards we have to meet; it is God’s standards. He knew we could never meet them, so He sent His only Son to bridge the gap for us. The enemy uses comparison and discouragement to try and distract us from doing what God has called us to do. God doesn’t require perfection, only a willing heart. He’s not looking for someone who talks a good talk; He is looking for someone who holds fast to Him.

So, when the world tries to distract you by throwing comparisons in your face, remember to stay focused on God and hold fast.

Stand Your Ground

“You cannot pass,” he said. The orcs stood still, and a dead silence fell. “I am a servant of the Secret Fire, wielder of the flame of Anor. You cannot pass. The dark fire will not avail you, flame of Udûn. Go back to the Shadow! You cannot pass.”

― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring


Last summer I was walking out to my car at lunch when I suddenly found my face within inches of the gravel parking lot. I couldn’t figure out why I was walking one minute and sprawled on the ground the next. Luckily, my large purse caught the worst of it, but one knee and shin took a beating. Afterwards I realized the culprit was a pair of sandals, overstretched and in need of replacing. They had rolled out from under my feet, tripping me and sending me to the ground.

The moral of the story is I should have thrown out the shoes at the end of the last summer. I knew they sometimes would wobble beneath my feet, but they were comfortable and I hate shoe shopping. The truth was they were not solid; they were not trustworthy. As humans, we tend to put our trust in things that are not always worthy of such trust, but there is one thing we can depend upon: The Word of the Lord.

And the Lord shall guide thee continually, and satisfy thy soul in drought, and make fat thy bones: and thou shalt be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters fail not.

Isaiah 58:11

The Word of God is a spring of living water. Several years ago, I came across a commentary on a scripture talking about how the people had chosen a broken cistern over a spring of water. A cistern is man-made and can only hold rain water, and broken cistern would leak, so it wasn’t very reliable. A spring, on the other hand, is constantly bubbling up water. When we tap into God’s living springs, we will never be thirsty again unless we forget to take a drink. It is always available to us.

Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.

1 Corinthians 15:58

We can stand steadfast and unmovable when we are standing on the Word of God. It is a sure foundation.  When we make decisions based on God’s Truth, we can stand with confidence. God calls each of us to different assignments, and we have to act on our individual calling. When we do that, the labor will not be in vain. However, our good deeds and intentions are wrong if they are out of God’s will for us, so keep in the lane God assigned you to and He will use it.

Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.

Proverbs 3:5-6

We can trust God, but trust means letting go. It’s not easy, but He will not force us. He will pursue us, though. There is a lot of peace found in letting go and letting God take the helm. He knows the way and He knows what’s coming.

If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.

James 1:5

When we are unsure of the next step, we can always get wisdom from the source. God’s Word is full of wisdom, and He will give it to us if we just ask.

The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: but the word of our God shall stand for ever.

Isaiah 40:8

Best of all, His Word is eternal. Everything else in this world is subject to change, but His Word stands forever. So, we know that we can stand our ground as long as we are standing on His Word.

So, throw away those shoes and anything else that is not trustworthy. Then, when you’ve done all else, just stand (Ephesians 6:13).

Stay the Course

“‘Go back?’ he thought. ‘No good at all! Go sideways? Impossible! Go forward? Only thing to do! On we go!’ So up he got, and trotted along with his little sword held in front of him and one hand feeling the wall, and his heart all of a patter and a pitter.”

The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien

In The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey Bilbo Baggins sets off on an adventure with Gandalf and group of dwarves. At first he is unwilling to join the quest, but at the last minute he throws things in a bag and runs off to catch up with the group. It’s not long into the trip before he is thrown into the uncomfortable by being forced to ride a pony. It’s his first hint that the journey will be full of twists and turns, not all of them pleasant, but he keeps moving forward.

I find myself in the same boat, so to speak. I start a new knitting project so excited, picking out colors and making plans. Even casting on brings joy, but part way through the pattern we hit a snag or have problems understanding the pattern, and suddenly we want to throw the project in our bag for another day or forget it altogether.

Every April our Ladies Group does a Bible study, and this year we are studying Promises of God from Love God Greatly. The first week’s topic was God is with you. As we were discussing the lessons, a commentary mentioned that the devil uses discouragement as a favorite tool for making Christians ineffective. It keeps us from doing what God has called us to do. We also discussed that sometimes you just have to do it afraid, knowing God will be with you. Another comment was that we need to stay the course no matter what is happening because God is with us. The study suggested praying God’s words back to Him in order to combat fear and discouragement. The main verse for the week was:

So do not fear, for I am with you;
do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

Isaiah 41:10

This week I put that suggestion to use and I felt the power of standing on God’s Word. Today, I began a short-term extra job to help raise funds for a newer car. Fridays are the one day that I can work an 8-hour shift, so I was discouraged when I woke up to a sinus migraine. The headache began to worsen after an hour of working, so I took a break. I came back and had to do a training set. The headache was no better, so I informed my leader that I was taking medicine and a break and would hopefully be back later. The headache finally died down to a dull ache, so I went back to work around 2:30.

Within an hour, my validity dropped and I had to do a training session and pass a training set in order to continue working. At one point, I considered just signing out for the day. In the middle of the training, my practice set was only 50% valid and I got very discouraged. I thought that maybe I shouldn’t be doing the job. I read Isaiah 41:10 back to God and reminded Him that He had put this job in place and I needed to pass in order to keep working, so I needed wisdom to answer the questions. I passed. Even then I considered quitting for the day while I was ahead despite the fact that there were 2 hours left on my shift and I had lost a couple of hours with the headache. Just then the phrase stay the course caught my eye. I knew I had to keep going. Like Bilbo I had to keep going forward.

God said not to be afraid because he would be with us, strengthen us, help us and uphold us, but He never said it would all be easy. It takes rough roads sometimes to remind us who is in control and where our help comes from:

 I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help. My help cometh from the Lord, which made heaven and earth.

Psalms 121:1-2

When the journey is full of twists, turns, potholes, and even an occasional detour, we know we can stay the course because God is with us. Don’t let the devil use discouragement or fear to stop you. Pray God’s Word back to Him and feel the power of the Almighty begin to work. Then just like Bilbo keep going forward and stay the course. Even greater adventures still await.

Disturbances

There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.

Hamlet (1.5.167-8), Hamlet to Horatio

In the original Star Wars movie, Obi Wan tells Luke, “There’s been a disturbance in the force.” This is an understatement if there ever was one considering that an entire planet was just blown to bits. Sometimes it feels like our world has been blown to bits, and sometimes we overstate our disturbances. Sometimes disturbances are necessary, especially when we have been in a hard season.

I was recently watching Signed, Sealed, Delivered: From Paris with Love. One of the characters had given up hope and another character came along and said: “It’s been a long winter, but spring is coming.” He points to a flower that has popped up overnight, the first bloom of spring. We look forward to spring and the idea of new growth, but the first movements require a disturbance as the seeds burst forth from underground sprouting leaves and buds.

On Palm Sunday, Pastor Brady at New Life Church in Colorado Springs read a poem by Sir Francis Drake which I was unfamiliar with, but it sums up the idea quite well:

 Disturb us, Lord, when
We are too well pleased with ourselves,
When our dreams have come true
Because we have dreamed too little,
When we arrived safely
Because we sailed too close to the shore.

Disturb us, Lord, when
With the abundance of things we possess
We have lost our thirst
For the waters of life;
Having fallen in love with life,
We have ceased to dream of eternity
And in our efforts to build a new earth,
We have allowed our vision
Of the new Heaven to dim.

Disturb us, Lord, to dare more boldly,
To venture on wider seas
Where storms will show your mastery;
Where losing sight of land,
We shall find the stars.

We ask You to push back
The horizons of our hopes;
And to push into the future
In strength, courage, hope, and love.

Attributed — Sir Francis Drake — 1577

I have been inundated lately with the phrase “dream big.” What does it mean to dream big? We need to be shaken loose from the status quo and learn to think in God-sized terms. God wants to do so much more than we are able to accomplish on our own. He wants us to come alongside Him in His work, not for Him to come alongside us in our work. He has bigger plans than we ever though possible much less were able to complete.

20 Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, 21 Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.

Ephesians 3:20-21

It is very easy to get settled in our comfort zones, but we miss so much when our worlds are too small. God wants to do more than we can even imagine, but it will require a disturbance to shake us free. Just this morning, I was sitting at my desk and a spider hopped up on top of it. I had been meaning to spray the house to keep unwanted critters from invading. It only took one spider to get me up and looking for the bug spray because the spider’s presence disturbed me. Maybe it’s time for Christians to be disturbed, not by a spider or the evening news, but by the Spirit of God. We need to be disturbed to get up and be about the Father’s business.

Word of warning: don’t confuse disturbed with fearful. God wants to wake us up and get us moving not to make us afraid. He wants to stir our hearts with a vision and a dream, not make us huddle in panic. He wants to give us a heart for hurting people, not anger and resentment. You can have an adventure right where you live if you are willing to open yourself up to a God-sized dream.

What dream has God given you? What will it take to disturb you? An adventure awaits if you are willing to dream big.

Changes in Vision

The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.

(Attributed to a variety of sources including Albert Einstein)

On March 25, 2021, I went to get in my car and noticed my irises had bloomed overnight. It’s always the first flower to bloom in that flowerbed, and it always takes me by surprise. Life can be the same way as many families discovered that day as tornado warning sirens filled the air all over the state. I am grateful that I woke up to see the same iris the next morning, still blooming despite all the storms. But, sometimes it takes a disturbance to help us see more clearly.

Seasons of Change

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven…He hath made every thing beautiful in his time: also he hath set the world in their heart, so that no man can find out the work that God maketh from the beginning to the end.

Ecclesiastes 3:1, 11

My irises always let me know that spring is upon us. Unfortunately, it also brings turbulent weather and allergies. Anytime change comes upon us there is bound to be turbulence, but it is the shake ups that force us out of our ruts and makes us take a look around. Often we find things that need to be done. For instance, I already have a mental list of chores that need to be done around the yard now that I no longer have the winter weather as an excuse to stay indoors. Spiritually, both individually and corporately as a church, we need to take a look around as we come out of a turbulent season. What needs to be done? What needs to be done differently?

Assess the Landscape

Let both grow together until the harvest: and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn.

Matthew 13:30

First of all, we need to assess the landscape to see where we are. For example, I have two stumps and laundry pole that are getting in my way of maintaining my yard. I have been throwing around ideas on how to work around or remove the obstacles, but I seem stuck with them for the moment. Sometimes God leaves the obstacles in our way because to remove them would hurt more than it helped. So, I have to figure out how to work around them by mitigating their influence as much as possible. Usually that means maintaining the area around it so that weeds don’t overrun and keep me from doing what needs to be done. We live in this world, but we are not of this world, so we have to learn to work around obstacles.

Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit.

John 15:2

At other times I have to prune with a passion. I have some dead plants and limbs that need cutting out before they become serious problems later. There are also weeds that need cutting down and maintained all season. Spiritually speaking, God often prunes with a passion. We need to be willing to accept His pruning and weeding so that we can be used in His vision for our church and our communities. It may require a new approach, doing things in a new way.

Find a Landmark

Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he.

Proverbs 28:18

When we lose our way, our first step should be to take a look around us and take stock of where we are. Once we assess the landscape, then we should look for a landmark to help guide us. For Christians, we need our moral compass set to true north: Jesus Christ. When we set our eyes on Christ, we gain a kingdom perspective. Instead of looking through rose-colored glasses, we are looking through Christ-centered glasses. A kingdom perspective will change everything.

If you always do what you’ve always done, you always get what you’ve always gotten.

(Attributed to Jessie Potter)

Adjust Your Course

When you know where you are and have identified where you want to go, you are ready to plot a course. Usually, this means adjusting your course. It means being willing to change. In the book Say Yes: How God-Sized Dreams Take Flight by Britt Mooney, the author talks about how this group of Christians said yes to God at every opportunity and how God blessed their ministry abundantly above what they imagined. But, they didn’t stop at saying yes to the vision; they took action and stepped out in faith. We have to be willing to let go of our limited perspective and get a God-sized vision. It won’t be easy, but the end results will be worth it.

What vision has God given you? What is the next step He wants you to take?

A Word Fitly Spoken

A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver.

Proverbs 25:11

For the last couple of weeks I have been debating about what to do about transportation. My car hit 300,000 miles, so I was faced with the dilemma of keep it going or get another car. I found a couple of cars that might work, but the price was a little more than I really wanted to pay. I also was just at the point in my budget where I actually could cover my current bills and set up payments to take care of an outstanding bill. A car payment would just put me into the same old mess. When the credit union wouldn’t loan me the money, I decided that I should just keep my old car running by making a few repairs, pay off the bill, and try to start saving for at least a down payment. On Monday the car broke down on the way home, leaving me stranded on the side of the road despite having repairs done. I was beginning to think I had made the wrong decision.

As I contemplated trying to get a loan through the dealership, I was praying for guidance. All day long I kept running into the same idea: Trust God. First, my devotional reading two days in a row were as follows:

He shall not be afraid of evil tidings: his heart is fixed, trusting in the Lord.

Psalms 112:7

The writer was talking about if we had confidence in God’s provision, then our lives would be so different. When we get bad news, we shouldn’t be afraid if we trust in God to handle the situation. The next day the scripture reading was as follows:

Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me.

Hebrews 13:5-6

The author wrote about a warning light on her car and a repair that didn’t fit into her budget. She noted that earlier that same week God had turned a mistake into a perfectly timed solution. It was so on point to my situation that it stunned me although we should never be surprised when God answers us so clearly.

Another book I was reading talked about how they had prayed for this piece of equipment for 18 months with no way to pay for it. Then, God had it donated to them, and the person said he had put the item in storage 18 months ago. God had prepared the answer for the perfect time without them having to worry about cost. They just had to be patient and wait on God’s timing.

Then, I saw a Dave Ramsey Instagram post about no car payment being the best thing.

Then, I scrolled through and saw this:

I decided to wait 6 months to a year to save up money for another car and to pay off the other bill. Since then, through a couple of circumstances, a couple of things were taken off my budget and a couple of opportunities for extra work have popped up.  God will provide a way for us, but sometimes we have to be willing to wait and deal with minor inconveniences in order to grow our faith.

Since I made the decision to wait, God sent me some small blessings as a reminder that He has not forgotten me. I was blessed with a replacement for a 2nd monitor that went out, which makes my writing tasks easier. I also had waited to buy some hand lettering supplies that finally came today. He even sent a funny turkey running across a side road to give me a laugh this morning. God will show us the answers to our questions if we are open to receiving it and wait with patience on the answer.

What are you waiting on? Look around because the answer may be closer than you realized, and it may come from unusual sources, possibly a turkey. You just never know.

Believe It!

“Alice laughed. ‘There’s no use trying,’ she said: ‘one can’t believe impossible things.’

‘I daresay you haven’t had much practice,’ said the Queen. ‘When I was your age, I always did it for half-an-hour a day. Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.‘”

From Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll

How many of you remember Ripley’s Believe It or Not? It was a television show in the 80’s that gave facts and stories that stretched the imagination. Lately, it seems to have been a theme in my life. I just finished reading The Magic of Thinking Big by David Schwartz, which was originally published in 1959. The concepts and exercises he gives on being successful are still applicable today, but one of the major points was to get rid of the word impossible from your vocabulary. He said if you believe it is possible, you will find a way to accomplish it, but if you think it is impossible, you will be blocked from ever accomplishing it. There is a biblical correlation to this idea.

For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.

1 Corinthians 13:12

In the Polar Express, the main character is a little boy trying to decide if he believes in Santa Claus and ends up riding a train to the North Pole. At one point he meets a hobo who tells him, “Believing is seeing.” We like to be able to see everything laid out before us, fully explained and concrete, but the spiritual life is not like that. Sure, sometimes we get glimpses of things, but for the most part we are trying to see through a dirty window.

Believe me that I am in the Father, and the Father in me: or else believe me for the very works’ sake.

John 14:11

Yet, if we look around, we can see God at work all around us. When we believe that He is who He says he is, then we see the world and events differently. Just looking at nature, really looking, shows us they we don’t really understand what is possible. Some animals can re-grow lost limbs. A tornado destroyed a church but the podium and the Bible on it remained untouched. Like the White Queen said, the “impossible” happens all of the time.

For with God nothing shall be impossible.

Luke 1:37

The trick is knowing who God is and what His will is. If God wants it to happen, He can make it happen regardless of the constraints of the universe because He created the universe. So, when we live in His Will, then we live in the sphere of the impossible being possible.

And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you.

Matthew 17:20

A mustard seed is one of the tiniest seeds on the planet but out of it grows a tree. It is an example of a faith in that it starts small and then grows into something that can stand time and the elements. When we believe in God and follow His Will, things will happen in ways that only God could accomplish.

What has God asked you to do that seems impossible? If He has given you a dream, a calling, He can and will make it happen if we only believe. But, it doesn’t stop at believing. If we truly believe, then we have to take a step of faith or a leap of faith if you will. We may not see the whole path laid out before us, but we know the next step. Once we take it, God will show us the next one, and so on.

So, get rid of the impossible and ask God to give you a heart and mind that imagines what great things He will do. Then do the next thing until what seemed impossible becomes not only possible but reality.

The Next Level

In the movie Groundhog Day, the main character keeps reliving the same day over and over again. He tries everything to break the cycle, but until he learns what he was meant to learn he is stuck repeating the same things over and over again. While we may not actually repeat the same exact day again and again, I bet most of us could say we have felt stuck in some way and unable to get to the next level.

When I need a break from work, I play a computer game. I had been playing the same level for what seemed like forever when I noticed something I hadn’t noticed before: a tool. When I used that tool, I was able to complete the round and move on to the next challenge. The harder the level, the more rewards you collect. I find the same thing true in my spiritual walk. As I try to grow and mature, I find myself stuck only to find that the tools I needed were there all along.

This week I have been reading two devotional books, one for writers and one on giving your dreams to God. Thursday they both had the same general message from two different angles about committing your work to the Lord. Then I listened to a podcast that talked about working from a place of rest. When I hear the same ideas or verses of scripture coming from multiple places, I have learned to take note. Here’s what I learned:

First, if we want to move to the next level spiritually, we have to do the work, but not just any work.

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.

Ephesians 2:10

While works won’t save us, there is still work to be done. This verse points out that God already had a plan for our lives, a work we were designed to do. When we fall in line with God and pick up his yoke, we find a satisfaction and enjoyment that exceeds anything we dreamed of even when the going is difficult or the work seems mundane.

Once we find the work God has us to do, we have to commit it to God:

Commit thy way unto the Lord; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass. Psalm 37:5

Psalms 37:5

Grant thee according to thine own heart, and fulfil all thy counsel. We will rejoice in thy salvation, and in the name of our God we will set up our banners: the Lord fulfil all thy petitions.

Psalms 20:4-5

Commit thy works unto the Lord, and thy thoughts shall be established.

Proverbs 16:3

When you dedicate your dreams to God, you have to trust Him and let go. It sounds simple and easy, but it’s not. We humans have a hard time trusting and letting go. He is a good Father who only wants the best for His children, so He is trustworthy. When we do let go, God always gives back more than we ever dreamed. Too often we try to hedge God in with our small ideas when He has much bigger things planned.

When we have committed it to God, then we can work from a place of rest.

For thus saith the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel; In returning and rest shall ye be saved; in quietness and in confidence shall be your strength: and ye would not.

Isaiah 30:15

When we let God set our boundaries, we can do the work that we were called to do but at a sustainable pace. Too often we allow the world to set the pace, one which is not healthy or meaningful. They call it a rat race for a reason. If we will let God show us which opportunities to take and which ones to let go, we can work from a place of rest knowing we are doing His will.

Then, we can look at each day as a chance to start fresh. Unlike the movie, we don’t have to repeat the same level. We can take the next step in our journey, the next level: we just need to remember:

This is the day which the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.

Psalms 118:24

So, let’s take each day one day at a time. If nothing else, the last year taught us that while it’s good to make plans, those plans can change. When we let God have the reins and lead the way, we know we will be going in the right direction and can just enjoy the ride. We can rejoice and be glad.

When you feel overwhelmed by your To-Do List, take a step back and lift it up to the Lord. Ask Him to show you what He wants you to do. You may find that some tasks need to come off of the list, or you may find that God makes a way for everything to get done. Either way, the road is a lot smoother when we take up His yoke instead of dragging everything by ourselves. He wants to give us the life of rest we truly long for if we will only let Him.

Is there something God wants to take off of your To-Do list?

Gifts

“I have nothing to give but my heart so full and these empty hands.”

Louisa May Alcott, Little Women

Ever noticed a little thrill when you get a package in the mail or by a delivery service? Do you feel a sudden urge to grab a box cutter, scissors, or in a pinch just use your fingernails? The last one is a thought that horrifies the owner of my local nail salon, but sometimes you just can’t wait to open it, especially when you don’t know what it is. You tear back the tape and rip back the cardboard flaps and ooh and ah even if it is something mundane like a new duster. But, how often do we lay aside the contents, sometimes leaving it in the box it arrived in, and forget about it until we find it again a month later?

There is the thrill of the new and the excitement of the unknown in opening the package, but what good is our new arrival if it sits buried in a corner unused. This year I made it a goal to try and begin using a gift or package as soon as I get it. I don’t always achieve it but I am trying to do better. As a matter of fact, just this morning I found a purpose for a new journal I received at Christmas. I had set it aside looking for the right time and project and I found one on journaling about the cross in preparation for Easter. Since I just re-found another gift, Andrew Murray’s The Way of the Cross, I thought it was a sign.

But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ.

Ephesians 4:7

We are all given gifts from God when we accept Christ as Lord, spiritual gifts. It sounds great. You know it’s there, but you don’t take it out of the box and use it. So, what good is it? Spiritual gifts were meant to be used. They have a purpose.

For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ

Ephesians 4:12

We are supposed to be using our gifts to help others. As Christians we are part of the body of Christ here on earth. Our gifts are how we function in the body. If we don’t do our part, the body may keep moving, but it is hindered from reaching its full potential.

So, break out the box and see what’s in there. There are studies and tests to help you figure out what your gifts are, but I dare say that you probably already have an idea. The key is putting the gifts to work. Look around your church and your community and I am sure you will find a need that you can meet.

Start with prayer. God is more than willing to give us an assignment if we will only ask. But you still have to take action even if it is only to raise your hand. You will be surprised what the Lord can do with a willing heart. Come to God with a full heart and empty hands and He will use them in ways we can’t even imagine now. God has already done His part. Now it’s your turn.

So, what’s in the box?